Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Buffalo Trace Tests Barrel Entry Proof in Latest Experiments
The latest release in the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection looks at barrel entry proof. Buffalo Trace doesn't always offer opinions about the results of their experiments, but this time they have. The tasting notes are theirs, not mine.
Buffalo Trace began this experiment more than 12 years ago, using four different entry proofs with its rye-recipe bourbon. All of the experiments came off the still at 140° proof. All of the barrels were aged together in Warehouse K for 11 years, 9 months and bottled at 90° proof.
The naming convention for the group is 'rye' followed by the entry proof, so it bears repeating that this is rye-recipe bourbon, not rye whiskey.
Rye 125 – At 125° proof, this was the highest entry proof used. It is also Buffalo Trace’s standard entry proof for its rye recipe bourbons, and the maximum entry proof allowed by law. The result was typical, a well-balanced bourbon with spicy cloves mingled with sweet vanilla, caramel and toffee to create a well-rounded and complex flavor.
Rye 115 – This rye recipe bourbon was put into the barrel at 115° proof and has light oaky flavors mingled with leather and palm sugar.
Rye 105 – At an entry proof of 105°, the angels were particularly greedy with their share taking the highest amount of all four experiments with an evaporation rate of 26 percent. The 105° entry proof produced a bourbon which has a good overall flavor with some earthy tones, followed by a buttery, light finish.
Rye 90 – At an entry point of 90°, this bourbon had a 25 percent evaporation rate. The result was a bourbon with a light fruity flavor followed by some hints of dried nuts and spice, with a drier finish.
Buffalo Trace previously performed a similar experiment with wheated bourbon. Both the wheat and rye experimental barrels were distilled around the same time, aged in the same warehouse, on the same floor, rick, and row and bottled around the same time. A key learning from both experiments was that entry proof does affect bourbon flavor, and it does affect evaporation rates. Also, different barrel entry proofs will produce varying flavor elements.
"Although it should not be a surprise to us, we found in blind tastings the rye-recipe with the 125° entry proof, which is our standard barrel entry proof for our rye-recipe bourbons, tasted the best to us," said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. "The flavor profile was the most balanced, while still offering the most pleasant mixture of tastes. It’s gratifying to know that even in blind taste tests, we still favored our ‘standard’ method as the best of the four in the experiment."
Buffalo Trace has more than 2,000 experimental barrels of whiskey aging in its warehouses.
The Experimental Collection is packaged in 375ml bottles, 12 to a case, with three bottles of each entry proof in each case. The suggested retail price is $46.35 each. This set should be in stores later this month.